Many people upon learning of our travels imagine all of the many, many sites we will encounter. They recall their last seven or ten-day vacation, where they were ‘on the go’ every day, to our six months in Europe. As the title of this BLOG implies, there is a lot of down time. Traveling for six months and staying at each rental a week, means 25 travel days! These are days filled with some level of stress of trying to make a 10 minute train connection, negotiating a closed train ramp as we encountered in Rome, or boarding the wrong train car entirely and being told we need to move back several cars into economy class. We also spend time planning the next leg of the journey, walking to the train station to buy the tickets, trying to learn what platform to go to, etc. We have pictures drawn in a small notebook to bridge any possible communication problem we may encounter when trying to purchase the tickets.
We also have to just take care of the basics upon arrival at a new place, by first finding the local grocery store and shopping for the basics like milk, coffee, breakfast cereal, wine and snacks. While these can be fun adventures and part of learning about the local culture, it is not sightseeing. Keep in mind, none of the products are familiar, nor are the food labels printed in English. It took us six tries to finally get real, 100% orange juice in Mexico. Time is also spent entering the words on the clothes washer into a translator program to learn how to operate the machine. There are few clothes dryers, so you must hang your wet clothes on a wire rack and wait for them to dry. We are not in hotels with a staff waiting to help in English. Often the landlord speaks no English. Time is also spent just finding a map of the area and then locating some restaurants. After many days of activities, one simply needs some down time with a computer, if the Internet is available, or a good book. By then we need to start planning the next leg of the trip. All of our lodging has been reserved, but the payment plans for each of the 33 reservations needs to be tracked and payments made by various means for the deposits and second installments. At times, I am thankful for the severe rainstorm so a decision is made for us, “let’s stay inside today.” Also, let’s not forget doing Federal taxes. We had to set aside an entire week in our travels just to work on these.
None of this is intended to elicit any degree of sympathy, rather just let our readers know we are not on the go all the time. We are currently in Dijon, France which is less than an exciting town. The constant rain does not help. Exploring various Internet sites reveals no nearby photography scenes. So this is an opportunity to get caught up on some computer work. Next week Paris!